Thursday, June 28, 2012

Isabella's Dream

This is Isabella. She is an unlikely cross between a Great Dane, a Beagle, and some other sort of dog. Many of you have already seen her or seen me mention her from time to time. But Isabella needs your help.

You see, Isabella is in the terrible predicament of being a poor dog with a rich dog's taste. So what she needs from you is $1,000,000 in American cash. Don't worry though, it's for very unselfish reasons. She wants to have a golden dog house built for her. And she wants to eat the finest steaks money can buy.

Up until now poor old Isabella has had to live in just a normal dog hose and a nicely cushioned cage. She likes the cage the most because it's inside the house. But that golden dog house sure would come in handy, especially since she isn't allowed up on the furniture.

Isabella has this dream of being an example for all other privileged dogs. Why shouldn't she have only the finest things? After all, shouldn't her rubber chicken toy make real clucking sounds? And she should also have a bacon scented ball. That would be a lovely little perk for a dog of such royalty.

She has promised to stop chasing every bird, cat, car, and squirrel she sees if she gets what she wants. I think that won't last very long though. She has also promised to stop breaking every collar that is bought for her if she finally gets that super deluxe model that she's been waiting for.
But right now poor Isabella is a sad sad dog because nobody has yet been generous enough to dig a million in change out of the bottom of their pocket so she can finally be happy. I've tried to tell her not to hold her breath, but she never listens to me anyway.

And besides, who am I to tell her no? I also have to admit that I wouldn't be all that upset if a million bucks found its way to this household. It might be fun, really. And I guess everyone has to have a dream, even dogs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Newest Passion

I have a new passion. Of course that doesn't mean my passion for nature has lessened. My new passion compliments and enhances my passion for nature. What I have found and am enjoying so much is photo editing. The best part is that it inspires me to take the best nature pictures I can.

You've already seen some of my work in many of my other posts. I can't say that I'm great at it yet, but I'm improving. Maybe one day my stuff will be beautiful. For now I'm trying out many different little techniques.

For instance, with the picture above I tried to get a bit of a fantasy feel. I always liked the original picture, but I always imagined the scene closer to what I did with it now. Now I see it with magical creatures hiding behind every tree and bush. click on it to make it larger if you like.

The picture above is the original photo. you can see that it was a nice enough scene when I took it. I imagined it as a look into a secret fantasy world. The problem is that, like so many other good photographs I've taken, it fell just a bit short of that in my eyes. I wanted a way to capture what my imagination saw.

Have you ever had a dream of being in a far off place or maybe a fantasy land?  I think of things like that all the time. That's why I like to edit these pictures. Some of you may like to travel. A few of you may even pick up and move to your ideal place in the world. There are Apartments for sale In Turkey if that's your kind of thing.

I like different environments and times of day too. For example, I took this picture above right before a huge thunderstorm. I've always thought that it was a beautiful picture. The quality of light was special when I took the picture. The camera was able to capture that just a little too.

Honestly, after looking at the picture after resizing it for the blog, I think I like this upper one every bit as much as I like it after I did my edit. The full size picture I edited showed a more noticeable improvement. I guess that's the price I gotta pay when I'm trying to save space for this blog.

Now here's the picture after I did a little bit of editing. This technique works really well on pictures of people. I learned this one on a Gimp message board. It makes pictures look similar to the super sharp pictures that National Geographic has. When I used it on this picture, it made it so clear that I felt almost as if I could walk right into the picture.

That's about it for my talk of editing pictures this time. I haven't given up any of my other passions for this. And who knows? Maybe I'll get bored with doing a lot of this as time goes on. But maybe I'll get much better. It's just something fun to do while I'm home.

I'll be back next time with something of which I have no idea yet. How's that for an ending?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scenes From Broken Kettle Grasslands

In my last post I promised to share some scenery from Broken Kettle Grasslands with you. I also told you that I had a little negative part of this adventure to tell you, but let's get into that part towards the end. I just really would like to show you these pictures of this beautiful place.

The benches in the picture above are just a short way past an entranceway through the fence that keeps the buffalo in here. The rest of the fence is electrified. The buffalo aren't really confined because it's almost as big inside as it is outside. This place stretches out for miles. That's why I never saw any buffaloes.

I must admit that I altered these pictures in my new favorite photo editor though. But really all I did was fix the light levels so that you could see the sign better. You can see by the shadow that I was pointed in the wrong direction for the Sun.

The first thing I thought when I got here was that this place is a paradise. Seeing all this with your own eyes can be breathtaking. It popped into my mind that it would just be wonderful to live in a place like this, and then I remembered that I do! I really do! I only live a few miles from here.

I'm sure there are similar places for those of you in other parts of the world though. I've seen pictures of Ireland that look very similar. I often wonder if that's why my family settled here. I've recently seen pictures from Turkey that look similar to this. If you're interested, I know where you can get prices on Altinkum Property there. It's worth a quick look.

Me? I'm happy right here in Iowa. I've found my paradise. Yours may look similar or it may look different. I do have to say though that I prefer a few more trees than you see here. There are a lot more trees up the road where I live. I love being in a forest.

Oh wait! I was going to tell you about something that happened here that I didn't like. When I got home I felt something creepy crawly on my leg. I had to take my pants off to get to whatever it was.

It turned out to be a tick! Altogether, I found three of the nasty little parasites crawling on me. I had to do a thorough check of myself and the dog. The dog didn't get any this time, luckily for her. And they didn't get to sink their chops into me, so we were both lucky. I must have just stepped in the wrong spot. It's the kind of thing that happens when you are outside in a wild place.

I got some great pictures out of the deal though. Like I said, this place is what I think of as paradise. These rolling hills full of green green grass where the buffalo roam. Occasional sanctuaries full of trees. A stream running through it all. That's heaven. What does your paradise look like?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Meadowlark On A Fence Post

I've been having a lot of fun with photo editing lately. I also have been discovering a few new animals in my adventures. The bird I have for you today is a meadowlark. It's my very first one. I've been seeing them around, with their flash of yellow,but I never got pictures until now.

The pictures aren't very impressive, but you should see what they looked like before I used a few editing tricks on them. Wait, I'll show you one of them toward the end today.

The problem was that the Sun was almost directly behind the bird when I took the pictures. Bad lighting couldn't be helped, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to get a few pictures of a bird when it was presenting itself so well to me.

I think I did quite well considering the angle I took the pictures from, and the obstructed view I had. The bird was sitting on a fence post almost right behind a warning sign. I cropped the sign out of the picture and zoomed the bird in a lot closer so you could see it better.

Here's the original picture above. It's the same source as the first picture of the post. Go ahead and click on it to get a better look. You'll see that the bird is completely dark except for the yellow of its breast. Using a few different settings in Gimp, I was able to brighten up the picture, especially the bird, without losing any of the color. Take a look below for the improvement.

A pretty good improvement, right? I'm really beginning to like Gimp. Do a search for it. It's free! It takes some time to learn how to use it, but it's worth it. It's about as hard/easy as Photoshop, and just as powerful.

Oh, the sign! I almost forgot. Here's a picture showing what's on the sign. I had to edit this picture too just to make it at all viewable. It worked pretty good too.

This Danger sign tells of the bison (buffalo) that live beyond the fence. The fence is electrified so I didn't get too close. There is a way in, which I took, but I only went to the viewing area. You can't usually see any bison because this place is huge and the bison run free here. The bison could be miles away at any time. There was evidence that they've visited though.

I had extra pictures to share this time. I hope it wasn't too many. Next time I'll share some of the scenery from here. And I'll share something not so fun that happened to me while I was at this place.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Dreamy Fantasy Pathway

I want to share something I've been doing on my computer recently. My pal Rob Wayne over at Nature Center Magazine has been messing with different photo editing software, and he lets me know about some of the things he tries out. So I decided to start playing around with some of that stuff a bit myself.

The scene above shows the entranceway at Five Ridge Prairie Preserve. I took the picture from the inside while I was leaving. The original picture is nothing special. You can see it below. I take some pictures just to mark my place. But I learned a little technique to turn my ordinary picture into a dreamy fantasy scene.

I won't bore you with the details. I just thought it was a nice little effect. I was doing similar things before, but I have more control over things with this new way. It's kind of fun playing around with my photos like this. It gives the computer nerd in me some needed excitement.

You can see by the second picture that the two are very different. Go ahead and click on them if you'd like to compare the two. Neither is great art, but the work was fun. And the hike there was just as fun. I always say that a person should have many different interests. It's even better if you can combine a few that are really very different. I'm glad to be able to combine my love of nature with my love of computers. What kinds of things do you love where you can do this? Who knows? Maybe you can influence the rest of us.

Oh, by the way, the photo editor I used is called Gimp. It's free, and a simple Google search will find it for you. I won't say too much more because I think Rob was planning on writing a whole article about it one of these times. I just thought I'd share a bit of fun.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Horses And Quackodiles

Sometimes it's hard to find something to write about. I was thinking that I should always write about the events that happened when I took whatever pictures I decided to share. The problem with that is that sometimes there's just not much to it.

I took the pictures of this horse through my truck window while I was on an old dirt road. I wanted to share this horse with everyone from the start, but there isn't much more to the story than that. So I floundered around wasting about a week while my blog sat still. That was never the plan.

You see, awhile ago I decided to stop sharing my little health updates because they have really mostly become irrelevant to me. And they also began to sound like whining to me. But I have been doing it for so long that the subject had become a habit. And it was a habit I wanted to break.

This blog is supposed to be about the things I like, such as nature, with a bit of strangeness thrown in to make it fun. So I can begin talking about a horse, and then drift off into some other strange subject that doesn't have much to do at all with that subject when I finish. That's the fun of a blog. You can say whatever you want!

And I'm going to try to begin to remember that from now on. Maybe that will push me to begin writing more again. My number one rule has always been to write whatever strange thing that comes to my mind first, such as quackodiles!

What is a quackodile? I have no idea. Maybe you know. But wouldn't it be fun to try to describe one? Who knows? maybe one day I'll write a story about them.

For now I'll just sit here and admire this horse. I wonder if I'll see it again the next time I go down that old dirt road. There are a few other horses there. Maybe I'll pick one of them as my next subject. I'm still on the hunt for buffaloes too. I know they're out there.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spirit Mound

I recently took a little trip to a place in South Dakota called Spirit Mound. It's just across the state border from my house so I thought it might be interesting to take a look. I remember reading that it was one of the places that Lewis and Clark visited. There are a lot of those around here.

You can see these pictures much better if you click on them. Everything was in a shadow for some reason. I had to fix the pictures up a bit in a photo editor to get them this good. They starte4d out okay, but the foreground was always in a shadow.

The first thing I noticed after looking at the pictures was that this red-winged blackbird kept popping up in all of my shots. He seemed to like being in the pictures so I decided to feature him this time.

I later found out why this place is called Spirit Mound. The local Native American tribes have a legend that there are demons that live here and they will kill anyone who comes near. Lewis and Clark found out that none of them would go anywhere near Spirit Mound. So they decided to visit the place to see what the big deal was.

And here, finally, is a picture of Spirit Mound, with that watchful blackbird flying across the picture. He almost seemed to be guarding the place. I never went closer to the mound than this. I just didn't feel like the walk up the hill for some reason. This was the best view anyway.

I didn't know the legend of Spirit Mound until a few days after I visited the place. After hearing the legend of Spirit Mound, would you visit the place? Would you take the hike to the top of the mound?

I left directions in the post footer for anyone who would like to know where to find this place.